Historical Fiction Must-Reads for Fall 2013

There’s something about the first hints of fall in the air that make me drive into book hoarding mode like a squirrel preparing for winter. Thus, I’m already finalizing my “hit-list” by genre for the next few weeks. What’s on it? Check out my current historical fiction to-reads below and make sure to add The Book Bird to your RSS feed or follow us on Twitter (@thebookbird) for updates.

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Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen
Available October 1st.
Edgar Allen Poe, an affair, a plotting wife… what more could you ask for? I am obsessed with 19th century New York (see my other pick below, Seven for a Secret if this is your thing as well), and was fortunate enough to get my book hungry hands on an advance copy of this one. Stay tuned for a review!

 

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Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye
Available September 17th.
The sequel to the well-received Gods of GothamSeven is already getting rave reviews. Detective Timothy Wilde is back, patrolling the lawless neighborhood of Five Points in 1840’s New York City. Wilde and his brother Valentine are incredibly well-fleshed out characters, and I am so excited about where their adventures will take them next. (Also, I found it incredibly amusing to imagine the bustling neighborhood of Chelsea as farmland, hehe.) A must for NYC historians and those who love a good detective novel.

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Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Freemantle
Available now.
This one made our “Six Tales of Tudor England” list — Queen’s Gambit follows Catherine Parr as she navigates the plots and intrigues of Henry VIII’s court.

 

What’s on your fall reading agenda?

xo The Book Bird

I Sincerely Doubt This House is Haunted….

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Like many gothic house novels John Boyne’s “This House is Haunted” left me feeling far from chilled. Having come off the creepy ride that was Marisha Pessl’s “Night Film” and the excellent “After Her” by Joyce Maynard, I was hoping that “This House is Haunted” would require me to keep a light on while I read, however I was sorely disappointed.

Let’s be real– writing a gothic novel that centers around a decrepit, possibly haunted, house is hard. In my experience as a reader I have only encountered one or two novels that have done this well. While I was willing to forgive Boyne for not living up to this part of the bargain, the complete blandness of his characters made me put this one down after about 30%. I mean this in the kindest way possible, but some authors should stick to writing protagonists who share their gender.

Unfortunately life is too short to waste time on mediocre novels. Will I ever know if the house was haunted? Probably not. Do I care? No, not really.

“This House is Haunted” will be available from retailers October 8th, 2013.

xo The Book Bird

Disclaimer: An advance copy of this novel was provided to me for review by the publisher via NetGalley. 

“After Her” by Joyce Maynard Reviewed

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A solid coming of age story with a few flaws, I enjoyed “After Her.” The novel tells the story of two sisters growing up outside of San Francisco whose formative years coincide with a serial killer’s rampage in the hills behind their home. Maynard does a wonderful job painting vivid, believable characters, and what I enjoyed most about the book was the way she gracefully captured the narrative of her teenage protagonist then and now. (Side note: I forgot how rough it is to be a teenage girl, BTW.)

While not as heart-pounding as some of the summer’s other thrillers, “After Her” is a nice mix of character study and mystery. The few flaws I found in the book most related to the awkward re-telling of some anecdotes that seemed to be out of order. ex. A favorite restaurant is mentioned and then given more of a description/context later as if it is the first time you are going there. A little annoying and confusing, I was surprised with the inconsistencies.

Overall, a solid recommended read that is the right length for a weekend!

Available from the New York Public Library or for purchase from Amazon.com.

xo The Book Bird